Mugabe accepts aid, conditionally
Mugabe has graciously consented to let the World Food Program deliver aid to starving Zimbabweans:Zimbabwe has agreed with the UN food agency to feed at least three million people in the country until next June. The deal is intended to smooth the World Food Programme's operations in the country. It does not guarantee help to victims of housing demolitions.
Selective aid. In practical terms, the government will allow food to be distributed only to those it hasn't targeted for punishment.
A report issued this week by Human Rights Watch accused the UN humanitarian agencies of neglecting those people affected by the Zimbabwe government's housing demolition programme, Operation Murambatsvina, in urban areas. WFP's southern Africa spokesman, Mike Huggins, told the BBC News website that in terms of the new memorandum of understanding, "we are free to operate in any programme or area the government allows us to operate in".
Regarding the provision of shelter to those evicted during the infamous "Operation Murambatsvina [Drive out rubbish]", the situation is even worse:
Housing demolitions by the government this year affected 700,000 people, according to a UN special envoy. A report by HRW says the UN has been slow to act on special envoy Anna Tibaijuka's recommendations that it should help those affected. It also accuses the Zimbabwe government of blocking aid to those in need.
The government's critics believe that the relocations are part of a strategy to reassert control over urban people who have voted overwhelmingly for the opposition in recent elections. "They want total political control - they want to peasantify people like [former Cambodian leader] Pol Pot - force them into they country so they can control them," says the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube.
The report also says that the government's housing construction programme known as Operation Garikai will be of little help. "The criteria for allocation under the programme, which include a proof of formal employment, a specified salary, and the payment of the initial deposit and monthly instalments, will make the housing unaffordable to the vast majority of the displaced," the report says.
Mugabe has insisted that it was all for the good of the people:
But Mugabe defended the urban clean-up exercise saying it was intended to better the lives of Zimbabweans because the cash-strapped Harare government would build modern houses for people whose mostly slum accommodation had been demolished. Local Government and Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo, in charge of the reconstruction programme, confirmed the work stoppages. But he said that this was because of a shortage of building materials rather than because the government does not have money. He said: "People tend to exaggerate things. Of course we are having problems of suppliers not meeting our demands for building materials. We have money for the projects."
And why, we may wonder, Mugabe worries so much about providing decent housing for his people? Perhaps this nice allegory will help us understand:
“Let’s call in the United Nations” said the big bad wolf. After so many years of disguising himself in hoods and cloaks he was confident that he know how to trick the likes of the naive Little Red Riding Hoods of the world. And anyway, he also knew that his second-in-command She-Wolf - who happened to be married to the former wolf-army general - now owned the brick factories. Everyone would be happy - the piggies would get their houses and the wolf pack was already drooling at the thought of all that dosh that would be coming their way in Little Red Riding Hood’s basket of goodies! They howled and they cavorted for the feast soon to be delivered.
Got it? No? I'll be more explicit: vice president Ms Joice Mujuru, aware in advance of the destruction and following selective reconstruction that was about to happen, bought as many shares of construction materials companies as she could:
A company owned by Vice President Joice Mujuru’s family has taken control of brick maker Willdale, one of the main suppliers to government’s Operation Garikai housing programme. Dahaw Trading now controls 40 percent of Willdale, after apparently buying shares previously held by Intermarket Nominees and Trust Merchant Bank (TMB) Nominees, formerly the top shareholder. However, the family is said to hold an even larger stake through separate stock held by nominee companies.
So the little piggies are screwed both ways and the big bad wolf gets richer and richer.